Sweet and Fresh Bakery

August 30, 2014

When Mon Hei Bakery in the International District burned down, I had to start looking for a replacement spot to get my cocktail bun fix. I decided to try Sweet & Fresh Bakery, which has been around for years but is somewhat off the beaten path. It’s a pretty typical Chinese bakery, and is simple and unassuming in both atmosphere and food.

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I ordered the coconut bun (I didn’t see cocktail buns) and the egg custard. The coconut bun was fine; sweet and light dough with the typical sweetened coconut filling. The custard was was really impressed me. It was definitely eggy, which was strange to my taste buds, but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed that taste and texture in a dessert.

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The syrup (hidden at the bottom of the dish) helped sweeten the pudding without overdoing the job. Overall, I’d say well done Sweet & Fresh… but I still pine for my Mon Hei cocktail bun.

Pear

July 21, 2014

Pear Deli, IMO, is one of the most underrated lunch spots in Pike Place Market, but the nice thing about this is it’s rarely overly crowded. One of my favorite sandwiches, the grilled cheese with pear, is made fresh here while you wait, and while you wait, you might as well… eat dessert! Especially when there are amazing pear tarts with a perfect pastry/cake texture:

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This was seriously one of the best pastries I’ve eaten in Seattle, and if you follow this blog, you know I eat a lot of pastries. In the name of research, I also grabbed a whoopee pie (for those who don’t know the joys of this Northeastern American dessert, it’s a pair of soft cakey cookies with sweet whipped cream in the middle).

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The cookies were velvety and soft, and solidly cocoa in flavor. The cream was fresh, homemake, and with just the right amount of sweetness. The picture also doesn’t do it justice in size – this thing was the size of a hamburger. Overall, these were the best desserts I’ve had in a while, and were among the best you’ll find at the Market (and maybe even Seattle). Next time you’re at Pike Place, don’t pass Pear by without giving it a try!

Michou

July 12, 2014

There is no shortage of lunch spots in Pike Place Market, and Michou Deli stands out as being one of the best. It’s one of my favorite places to grab a sandwich or salad or sample some unique fare (you’ll find prepared salads using farro, quinoa, or couscous as a base). So I was a little surprised when I finally tried their desserts and found them to be less than I expected. Sure, they’re unusual (where else, other than the Mediterranean, can you find a Tunisian Doughnut?), and maybe my American sweet tooth couldn’t discern the more subtle textures and tastes of international sweets, but I found the snacks I tried to be dry and not terribly flavorful.

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The big circle is the Tunisian Doughnut, which was harder and more breadlike than I was hoping. I thought it also could have used a little more sugar. The little circle is a zeppole, which is an Italian doughnut hole. Again, a lighter texture and more spice and/or sugar would have helped me love this (or maybe I am meant to dip it in coffee?). Finally, the bar cookie (chocolate with a vanilla crust) was actually a little too sweet for me.

Definitely try Michou for a take-out lunch, but I’d say get your desserts elsewhere… and there’s lots of places to choose from!

 

Yippie Pie Yay

June 16, 2014

I’m not a pie person. Real dessert to me means cake. That being said, I wasn’t about to turn down a snack from Yippie-Pie-Yay during a recent visit to the U-District Farmers Market. I had read about this cottage industry pie spot, but didn’t think I’d get the chance to try it until they opened up a brick and mortar location (which it looks like they may do in the near future). So I was pretty excited when I saw them at the farmer’s market (although I haven’t seen them there since!):

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They had these tiny little buttermilk pies, which I had never heard of, but they sounded like a good idea. It was actually a GREAT idea, and the only problem was that I didn’t get more of them (or just get a full-sized pie). Creamy texture, sweet but with a tang, and a lovely buttery crust… I had to try more. So I went for the strawberry-rhubarb hand pie:

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Again, full marks for flavor, texture, and fat. It didn’t even need to be warmed up or served a la mode – it stands alone. Honestly, even if you’re like me and not a huge fan of pies, these will not disappoint. My new favorite of all the Seattle pie shops (and there are a lot). I can’t wait for them to actually have a store!

Simply Soulful

June 9, 2014

When I first moved to Seattle, I complained a lot about the relative lack of good soul food – how else was I supposed to get through the winters? But these last few years Seattle has seen a real upswing in the number of Southern-style food joints. Simply Soulful seems ready to join the ranks (although for now it’s mainly a bakery).

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If the space looks familiar, it’s because it used to be Inez Patisserie (which has moved to Cap Hill). You can find their products at various stores and farmer’s markets, but my advice is to spot by their cafe in Madison Valley and chat with the very gracious ladies (mother and daughter) who run this venture. I stopped by last month when I happened to see a sign with what appeared to be a pie. A new dessert spot in Madison Valley that I didn’t know about? Impossible. Turns out they had only just opened, and only a few products were available. Rather than wait for the official opening, I decided to grab a few things:

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On the left is a sweet potato muffin, and on the right is a Pecan Pie (I had to capitalize because it was so Good).  What I liked most about the muffin was that it tasted like real sweet potatoes, not just sugar with orange food coloring. What I liked best about the Pecan Pie was that it was the best. Truly. I ate that Pie in one sitting and didn’t share with anyone. I will be back. Just need to do a few yoga classes first.

La Parisienne

May 19, 2014

I tried this Belltown bakery back when it was Boulangerie Nantaise, and liked it fine, but La Parisienne is better (and even more French). The woman who runs the place speaks mostly French, which somehow makes the croissants taste better.  The inside is essentially the same, with casual cafe seating and space to sip your espresso:

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I started with two mini-croissants – one regular and one chocolate. I love that they have these small sizes (perfect for people like me who want to try it all). They were flaky and not at all mushy or bready. As I ate them, I listened to a French mom and her little girl… and dreamed I was in back in Paris.

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Naturally, I had to take a few sweets home for dessert. I chose a chocolate tart, raspberry tart, and chocolate chip “cookie” (which was really tall, almost like a tiny cake). The raspberry was the only thing that slightly disappointed -the shortbread crust was excellent and the berries themselves were fresh, but I was expecting a little custard to bring the whole thing together.

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My favorite was the chocolate tart, which had a lovely dark ganache topping. The tall cookie (not sure what else to call it!) was also a delight. If I lived in Belltown, I would come here all the time and practice my French while trying every pastry, bread, and dessert.

Madison Kitchen

May 3, 2014

Madison Park just keeps getting tastier, and with Madison Kitchen you can now get your coffee, pastry, deli, and sweet tooth fix. Cozy on a rainy day, and sidewalk seating when it’s sunny, this little cafe has it all. I got a half sandwich and salad and sat back to consider my dessert options.

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While munching away on my BLATT (bacon, lettuce, avocado, turkey, and tomato sandwich), I eyed the selection of goodies. There was a solid variety, some traditional and some more unusual. I got a bit of each category:

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On the upper left is a mini rustic apple tart, which I quite enjoyed served warm (although the bottom fell out). The crust was lovely and the tart had that homespun, made with love, feel. On the upper right is what I’ve always called a Dream Bar – a bar cookie with coconut, pecans, and brown sugar. It’s like a pecan pie with coconut, but I found it a tad too sweet. My friends really enjoyed it though, and it seemed like a popular item. The last is the brownie, which I thought was perfect. Cocoa-y and somewhat fudgy, crackling top… very satisfying. I heart this place.

 

Borracchini’s Bakery

April 25, 2014

I have driven by Borracchini’s dozens of times but never been in, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from this Mount Baker Italian bakery. But stepping inside was like being transported straight to New York City – the place felt like a corner deli, and the selection of goodies could have come right out of Little Italy.

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I was excited to see they also sold bread – plentiful and cheap. I bought a loaf of rye and then took some time picking out dessert (they let you sample everything!).

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There were so many kinds of cookies (although sadly no black & whites) and the prices were extremely reasonable. I chose a chocolate cookie, snickerdoodles, and some rainbow sprinkle sugar cookies, along with a package of “croissant breadsticks” covered in sesame seeds.

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The breadsticks had gone a bit stale but were fine after I heated them up in the toaster. The sugar cookies and snickerdoodles were fine but unremarkable – similar to what you’d get at the grocery store. The chocolate cookie, on the other hand, was lovely. Soft, gooey, cocoa-y, with a nice glaze on top. They made a smaller version as well, but I’m glad I got the large. Overall, I’d say use this place for feeding a crowd, but if you’re looking for that one special dessert, you might do better elsewhere.

 

 

 

Kaffeeklatsch

April 16, 2014

I never go to Lake City – it’s relatively far from Cap Hill, and let’s be honest, if you’re not in the market for a used car, there isn’t much reason to visit. But I didn’t want to leave any bakery untried, so I made the trek to Kaffeeklatsch, a neighborhood bakery that I ended up wishing was in a different neighborhood so I could visit more often. But to their credit, they work really hard to enrich the Lake City area, and advertise all kinds of community events.

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The selection of pastries and desserts got me excited, but when I saw the array of breads for sale my heart was won. I had a hard time choosing between the Sunflower Rye and Potato, but ended up instead with a Challah-type loaf called a Hefezopf.  I also went with the Linzertorte and chocolate chip cookie.

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The bread was excellent (I’m a sucker for a good egg-wash), but the Linzertorte could have used a little salt on top (whereas the cookie had too much). What won me over was the inspired cinnamon roll, pictured below with icing on the side:

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It was a beautiful thing while it lasted! I loved the browned caramelized “top” and perfect flaky texture (not chewy or dry!). Just the right amount of sweetness and cinnamon flavor too. Perhaps its better that they remain in Lake City, or I’d have to do a lot more Pilates!

Nielsen’s Pastries

March 30, 2014

After being talked into helping one of my students with a project at the Sculpture Park downtown, I felt I deserved a reward – preferably one involving butter and sugar. Being near Nielsen’s Pastries, which I’d read about but never tried, I decided to make a blog-worthy detour.

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The inside, while welcoming enough, didn’t scream “sit and stay awhile” which was fine since my student had opted to wait for me in the car.  So I ran in, ordered my coffee, and selected a few items of interest: the Cinnamon Danish, the Lemon Poppyseed Shortbread, and the “Bad Boy” cookie.  This being a(nother) Scandinavian bakery, there were plenty of more traditional pastries like the Kringle and Bear Claw, but I’m just not into the almond pastries.

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The Lemon Poppyseed Shortbread was on the bitter side, but the Bad Boy cookie was phenomenal. Not your average chocolate chip cookie, this one contains cocoa nibs, chopped chocolate, and coffee. The dough was fresh-tasting and encased all the above mentioned ingredients in rich buttery goodness. One of the best cookies I’ve had in Seattle.

Next up was the Cinnamon Danish, which is pretty much as it sounds (a cinnamon roll made with danish dough).

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This was as good as any cinnamon roll I’ve had, in spite of the almond filling in it. And I’m extremely picky when it comes to cinnamon rolls! One thing that set it apart is that the icing is baked into the roll… mmmm!  Definitely heat it up, at eat in one sitting soon after purchasing.


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